Taking a slow path to fast food

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

Restaurateurs are expecting a rush today as food outlets, closed for long weeks, reopen to offer their menus to the public.

It remains to be seen how well restaurants have prepared for the crowds expected after two and a half months of closed doors.

Royal Castle was hoping to emphasise delivery. Trotters owner Peter George will keep the San Fernando branch and the Blue Star Diner closed, and fretted that: "Curbside is no great shakes."

But for some smaller outlets, that may be the only practical way to deal with their customers.

There are some positive signs that businesses are taking their social responsibility to limit the spread of covid19 seriously. On Wednesday, representatives of local chambers of commerce indicated their willingness to be guided by government policy on vaccination as the economy begins to reopen.

That policy has been focused on making possible the resumption of business through a programme of accelerated jabs by sector, under the slogan of “vaccinate to operate.”

Given the spirited debate over the intersection of personal rights and social responsibility that’s simmering on both sides of the vaccination divide, the government is sensibly putting its efforts into encouraging access to vaccines and doing a better job of organising the process for growing numbers of citizens.

Hundreds showed up at selected sites last week for the first of four days set aside for the systematic vaccination of workers in the restaurant sector.

Street vendors in San Fernando prevailed on mayor Junia Regrello to allow vending at Cross Crossing after all, by devising and presenting a plan to limit congregation and observe health protocols.

After announcing today’s reopening just over a week ago, the Prime Minister pointed out that the delay was implemented specifically to allow restaurants to prepare for an influx of customers and for customers to practise patience.

The public's response to today’s limited restaurant reopening and the systems that businesses implement to control crowds will play a large part in guiding Trinidad and Tobago on a measured path to reopening further sectors without increasing the risks of swelling the wave of infections once again.

The ability of restaurants and food vendors to get back to work is a critical element in the recovery of small and medium businesses. Restaurants and street vendors have been hammered by covid19 restrictions globally, and TT is no exception.

In April, Tobago restaurant owner Kirton Sorias said he believed as much as 65 per cent of the sector on the island might not reopen after the shutdown that month.

In the collective enthusiasm to resume the food-service industry and patronise their fare, it’s important that both vendors and customers remember the danger that continues to thrive around us and exercise care, patience and restraint in their interactions.

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"Taking a slow path to fast food"

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